For folks who suffer from depression and anxiety, interacting with animals can be incredibly beneficial. They don’t judge us, don’t tell us to get over it—they just let us be and offer companionship.
Rob Osman from Bristol in the United Kingdom knows that walking his dog can help him through rough times. That’s why he came up with a great idea to help others suffering as well—Dudes & Dogs, a group for men to walk their dogs and talk about their emotions.
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“We want men to understand that it’s not just okay to talk, it’s important,” Osman writes on the Dudes & Dogs website.
In 2019, Osman gave up his corporate job and started walking dogs and focusing his family. He soon realized that walking his dog Mali or other pups helped him when he experienced depression and anxiety. Osman is currently working on a psychology and counseling degree, but in the meantime, the idea of inviting men to come out on a walk with their dogs and just share with each other resonated with him.
“I also started thinking about what had helped me hugely, and that was the fresh air and getting out with my dog, the good it does me is for another time,” he said.
Osman says he has suffered from social anxiety since he was ten. “It manifested in basically throwing my guts up in pretty much any social situation, especially where girls were involved,” he said. He lost his father
It still feels kind of wild that there is still a general cultural skepticism about men talking about feelings, and men are still less likely to seek mental health treatment, but hopefully Dudes & Dogs will help erase that stigma.
“It gives people the opportunity to realize that it’s not unusual to feel that way,” he said of the group. “This is giving them a free space and a relaxed place to talk.